Have a seat

This is probably the most unusual item I brought home from Mimi’s house. And the funny thing is that I didn’t know what it was until last month, even though it had been in their bathroom and/or mudroom for as long as I can remember.

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Any guesses as to its original purpose? Perhaps if I mention that my grandfather was a physician? Yes? No?

This, my friends, is a birthing stool. Really. It perhaps looks faintly barbaric to the modern eye. Yet in all honesty, I wish I’d known what it was years ago so that I could have borrowed it for its intended purpose. Even though I was attended by a midwife, I still had hospital births. Practices and furnishings changed somewhat over the years between Caleb and Daniel, but the modern birthing bed is still designed for a doctor’s convenience. Sure, there are features added with the mother in mind. They are intended for the average height woman, though, and were fairly useless for me. But this. I can sit down with my feet flat on the floor! Sure, it would be less convenient for the birth attendant, but in a normal delivery it’s the mother is doing the most and hardest work.

Anyhow, historic usage aside, it’s also the perfect seat in my modern bathroom and it reminds me of my grandparents.

Friday night magic

If we don’t have pizza for dinner–preferably homemade–my family isn’t sure it’s really Friday. I begin by turning on the music.

Then I gather my ingredients and start measuring.

The sight and smell of yeast proofing always makes me smile (for my gluten free friends, recently we have been enjoying this recipe with–of course–a few changes).

Shaping the crusts.

And giving the yeast time and warmth to work its magic.

Adding toppings is a work of art.

This is the smell that makes the kids come running: pizza, hot out of the oven.

I’ve never timed them, but I think they devour pizza faster than I can make it. . .it’s a good thing I enjoy the process too!

Knitting up stash

After finishing my shawl, I decided to concentrate on using up the odds and ends of yarn in my stash. The first project I started was a throw blanket; that one’s still in progress because at some point I bought a gigantic cone of soft pink yarn for reasons I’ve forgotten. The thing is, the cone doesn’t fit in my knitting bag so I only work on that at home.

The first project I finished was an infinity type scarf for myself using the skein + left from Joshua’s vest which I knit in the fall of 2009. It was a cool lace pattern, but in spite of careful blocking it curls up when I wear it. Oh well–it’s still warm.

The next project was another scarf, this one for Daniel using the partial skein of red yarn left from Caleb’s Gryffindor scarf. . .my first bigger-than-a-dishcloth knit back in of summer of 2009. I did a basic 2×2 rib since this was a boy scarf; I knit until I ran out of yarn but it’s kind of short. You see, he turned down the offer of Gryffindor stripes in favor of “just red, because it’s my favorite color.” Well, I knit to please–and he is pleased. So there we are.

I’m not sure what I’ll cast on next, but in the meanwhile I’ll keep knitting my pink blanket!

Rose garden

Mimi’s funeral was last Friday. It was a hard day; there’s no way around that. But between the tears there were also many happy memories shared and even a few giggles. Which is only right, considering how many times we giggled with Mimi through the years!

There were also roses; my grandfather always grew roses and they were both involved in the Rose Society. This particular garden of roses came from the ladies in the Friday morning breakfast group she had joined sometime after he died in 1987.


 They did a wonderful job of capturing many of her qualities, from Charming to Down to Earth. A most thoughtful tribute, but then Mimi always was one to draw the best out of everyone around her.


Five reasons I shop at Aldi

  1. Prices. Might as well start with the obvious: shopping at Aldi is easy on the budget! There are a few items I prefer to buy elsewhere, but for most things the quality is fine.
  2. Size. I can get in, get a week’s worth of groceries, and get out in under half an hour. No walking five minutes just to get to the dairy cooler.
  3. Labeling. The allergen labeling is easier to read than most; no wondering if that chocolate bar contains stealth gluten. Hooray!
  4. Quirky selection. That chocolate bar? It was made in Germany. There are some items that are always there and then there are the interesting things that are seasonal. Like yummy cheeses or fancy olives or holiday goodies.
  5. Friendly. I was a little hesitant to start shopping at Aldi. Walmart has a reputation for low prices, sure, but Walmart also has a reputation for surly shoppers in pajamas and clueless employees. Aldi’s employees are whizzes at efficiency and the other shoppers tend to be fully dressed. And courteous. Who could ask for more?

Finished. Finally!

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Yards and yards and yard of lace weight yarn

If you’ve spent any time at all with me in the past two years, you’ve probably seen me working on this shawl. I bought the gorgeous midnight heather yarn with gift money from my 41st birthday (I’ll be 43 on Saturday. . .).  I cast on and pulled out several patterns before finally settling on the Sweetheart Shawl. With size 2 needles.

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Very pleased with the crocheted castoff, even though it involved many pins to block.

Except for using lace weight yarn (and size 2 needles), it was actually a rather boring knit. The repeat was 8 rows: except for the edge and increases, 5 were all knit, 2 were all purl, and only 1 was pattern. Also, the rows very quickly got to be ridiculously long, taking over a half hour per row.

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Did I mention the size 2 needles?!

All in all I am pleased and thankful that my yarn was fabulous enough that I kept going in spite of myself. The pictures don’t do the color justice: it’s a beautiful blend of dark green/navy/black. Still, I’m ready to give away my size 2 needles and knit only worsted weight for a while.

At home (Epiphany)

Another random selection of what’s happening at my home. . .

My book basket

The first book I read this year was Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford. It was a sweet love story with some very sad and bitter moments. Book group will resume shortly; our first book this year is Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. I’ve never read anything by Woolf so I have no idea what to expect. My Bible reading has been more sporadic than I would like, so I’m still reading in Exodus.

In the kitchen

The Christmas cookies are long gone, which I am sure surprises no one. I am currently working on a pantry challenge; that is, focusing on cooking the food we already have and purchasing minimal groceries. My stockpile is not that big at the moment, but there are a few items that have been lurking about too long.

Sewing corner

I have resolved that any handmade gifts for Christmas 2016 must be done before Thanksgiving. Wish me luck! The kids’ pajama pants almost weren’t done in time, and the whole project became more stressful than it should have been. Which is why I haven’t sewn since early morning Christmas Eve. My next project is to finish the blouse I started in November, and then I think I am going to work on a surprise for Larry’s birthday.

School room

We resumed homeschool this past Wednesday, although it was a light week. We finished our read aloud of Kipling’s Jungle Book but the rest of the boys’ assignments were things they could do without me. This coming week we’ll have to tackle a full load since we will be gone part of the following week for Mimi’s funeral.


My Mimi died this week, at 93 years young. It wasn’t a surprise: her health had gradually declined since last summer. But it still isn’t easy to lose your grandmother. Even when you’re almost 43 years old. Maybe especially then, when you have four decades of memories to sift through.

I was asked to write Mimi’s obituary, and writing it was a good thing. No surprise there, as I have always tended to think best when I am writing. I am glad that I had started a rough draft this fall, because it’s harder to think through tears. Anyhow, I will post a link on Facebook once it is on the funeral home site, but in the meanwhile I wanted to share a few random pictures and memories.


Mimi, Angie, & Gaummy–1975

Going to Mimi’s house was always fun. She would play games with us and would almost always serve chicken for dinner if I told her I needed it. But she never spoiled us; if our parents would say no, she certainly would not say yes. She also kept us busy, washing her patio or drying dishes or just tagging along on errands.

Cousins 1988

Danny, Tony, Maggie, Mimi, & Angie–1988

I’m not sure which I liked more, spending Christmas at Mimi’s house or having her come to our house. Going to Mimi’s often meant celebrating with cousins.


Caleb, Rachel, & “Great” Mimi–2001

I am thankful my older kids had many opportunities to get to know their Great-Mimi, as Caleb dubbed her. She was on our way to Indiana and so we would stop for an overnight or at least for lunch. She also occasionally came to our house with Dad and Mom for a holiday visit.


Friday morning breakfast–2012

I got to know quite a few of Mimi’s friends when I lived with her summers in college. Some of them were willing eaters as I learned to bake pie. It was also a treat to see them when I visited in later years, especially the Friday morning breakfast group.

From her obituary: Mary Jane’s warm smile and contagious giggle will be remembered by all who knew her.

Twenty years

Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see  him leave. – Martin  Luther


December 30, 1995

Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success. – Henry Ford

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December 30, 2015

What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate. – Mark 10:9